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Identifying and supporting children affected by parental substance use


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Slides to accompany a resource for schools in England on children affected by parental substance use. Prepared by Adfam for the ADEPIS project.

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Identifying and supporting children affected by parental substance use

  1. 1. Identifying and supporting children affected by parental substance use ADEPIS resource launch 7th November 2013
  2. 2. Key messages • Schools have both the responsibility and the ability to support children affected by parental substance use • Safeguarding: a matter of child welfare, not drug and alcohol expertise • Existing structures/policies cover most of this work already, but added focus is needed • PSU is not a school’s ‘problem’ to ‘solve’, but they can play an important role in identifying these children, and have a positive impact on their lives
  3. 3. Scale of the problem • 250 – 350,000 children affected by parental drug use in UK (Hidden Harm) • At least 120,000 children living with a parent currently in treatment • 6% / 700,000 live with dependent drinker • 100 children a week call Childline worried about their parents’ drinking • Serious Case Reviews: 22% drug use, 22% alcohol use • Comparison: 67,000 looked after children, 382,000 assessed as ‘in need’ (2011-12)
  4. 4. Impacts • • • • • Neglect Disruption of routine Inadequate supervision Physical/emotional abuse Inappropriate parenting practices • Poverty • Domestic violence • Exposure to drugs and paraphernalia • Loyalty and protection of parents • Reluctance to disclose • Guilt, shame, stigma • Sadness, isolation, depression • Anger and frustration • Fear, anxiety (for their parents and for themselves)
  5. 5. Indicators • • • • • • Social isolation Difficulties completing homework on time Being bullied – or bullying? Poor attendance/late arrival Tiredness or lack of concentration Lack of parental interest/engagement e.g. Not attending parents’ evenings • Unavailability for school clubs/trips • Behavioural difficulties • Academic underachievement
  6. 6. School impacts Age 5-9 10-14 15+ Impact School medical checks missed; poorer school attendance/preparation/concentration; restricted friendships; excessive responsibility for parents/siblings; more antisocial acts (boys); depression, anxiety, withdrawal (girls) Continued poor academic performance; looking after siblings; early smoking more likely; little parental support; bullying Lack of suitable role models; poor educational attainment may affect long-term life chances
  7. 7. Educational impacts • “At school I would text my mum because I was scared I wasn’t there to look after her” • “Everyone seems to be getting others’ advice on University applications but I don’t want anyone to read mine. I have had to write about mum’s alcoholism and the homelessness as part of the extenuating circumstances so I dont want anyone knowing.” • “I've recently started University (for the 2nd time) and have really enjoyed it so far, but it is still really hard sometimes as I have moved away from home, leaving my mum to deal with my dad, who's the alcoholic in my family. While it is nice to have a break from all of it, I still feel really guilty”
  8. 8. Why schools? • May have a window into children’s lives that other services do not • Child focused by definition • Early intervention • Not necessarily a social care issue • Provide a safe haven/structured environment • Protective factors: trusted adults, success outside the home • Schools hold a lot of information on children: looked after, child protection plan, special educational needs etc
  9. 9. Why schools? • ACMD: ‘No school should assume that none of its children have drug problems’ • Minister: ‘Ofsted take particular interest in the experiences of more vulnerable children’ • NICE: ‘schools should ensure teachers and practitioners are trained to identify and assess the early signs of anxiety [and] emotional distress’ • Munro report: ‘schools are particularly well placed to notice children and young people in need of help and to notice where there are more serious concerns about their safety’ • ACPO/DfE: ‘schools will be alert to behaviour which may indicate that the child is experiencing difficult home circumstances’
  10. 10. How schools can help • • • • • • • • Pattern and structure Trusted adults Identified special teachers to talk to Reassurance – not alone, not to blame, not betraying anyone by speaking about it Home visits by school nurses Somewhere quiet to relax Support with school work Access to breakfast/after school clubs, careers advice, extra-curricular activities
  11. 11. Which policies? Safeguarding/ child protection Antibullying Parental involvement Young carers PSU Drugs PSHE/Drug Education Vulnerable/ looked after children
  12. 12. Which staff? Governors Named lead? Teachers School nurses PSU DSP for child protection Nonteaching link workers Education welfare Head teachers
  13. 13. Further resources Drug-specific • STARS • Al-Anon • COAP • NACOA • Action on Addiction General • TES • NSPCC • Carers Trust • Grandparents Plus
  14. 14. Get in touch • @AdfamUK • @MentorADEPIS • • • • 020 7553 7640